Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Fr. David M. O'Connell, the outgoing president of Catholic University of America, to serve as the Coadjutor Bishop of Trenton, New Jersey. The appointment was announced today in Washington D.C. by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S.
As Coadjutor Bishop, O’Connell will assist and then automatically succeed the current bishop of Trenton, Bishop John M. Smith, when Pope Benedict accepts his resignation as required by canon law at a date yet to be determined. Bishop Smith will turn 75 on June 23 of this year.
Bishop-elect O'Connell has served as the president of The Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, D.C. since 1998. He holds a licentiate (1987) and a doctorate (1990) in canon law from CUA, with a specialization in Catholic higher education.
Bishop Smith graduated from CUA with a bachelor’s degree in theology in 1961 and a doctorate in canon law in 1966.
“I am deeply humbled by the Holy Father’s confidence in me and feel extraordinarily grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve the Church,” said O'Connell on Friday. “I am especially delighted by this assignment to Trenton, an area very close to my family home in Langhorne, Pa. Bishop Smith is a wonderful bishop and I look forward to the opportunity to work closely with and to learn from him.”
The Diocese of Trenton spans four counties across central New Jersey and contains a population of approximately 805,000 Catholics in 113 parishes. Trenton is also the state capital.
For his episcopal motto, Bishop-elect O'Connell has chosen the Latin phrase from Mark 10:45, “Ministrare non ministrari,” which means, “to serve and not to be served.” He explained, “This was the text used at Mass during my ordination as a priest. It hit me in such a powerful way that I never forgot it.”
Bishop-elect O'Connell will be the tenth bishop of Trenton when he is ordained at St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral on August 6, 2010.